Armoured and Ready for Cleveland

by Will Greer

It’s 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10, 1998, and several hundred teen guys anxiously sit and wait to hear the next speaker. It’s the third day of FCA Athletic Camp in Estes Park, Colo., and the young men are getting to know each other and God better.

The message they’re about to listen to will help speed up that process. A 25-year-old professional football player will share his struggles and triumphs on and off the gridiron. What’s more, he’ll humbly reveal that he’s a virgin and proud of it.

The guy taking the stage is Justin Armour, a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos. After being signed as a free agent by the Broncos on Feb. 24,1998 he mentions to the crowd that he’s looking forward to being a part of the Super Bowl championship team. But the one roster he loves most is the one he’s got a spot on forever – God’s.

The 6-foot-4,209-pound athlete is strong enough to realize God’s plan for his life is best. Justin receives recognition for being a virgin in a sport where sex outside of marriage is easily available and often accepted.

"Temptations are easily available to those who look for them. But if you don’t make yourself available to those women who would take advantage of you, they rarely approach you. I encourage young people to make the decision to be abstinent before they go out into the battlefields of life. If you don’t decide beforehand, you’ll lose the fight.

"I believe what Jesus says about sexual purity is true. The conviction I have to remain a virgin until marriage is a deep one, but not any more than the belief I have that one day Jesus will return," says Justin.

Recognizing he can’t win the war alone, Justin has chosen to have open discussion with a few Christian men. He needs others to walk with him on his journey of faith.

"There’s a whole lot more to being abstinent than not having sex, it’s a lifestyle. I’ve got a couple of Christian friends who hold me accountable for my actions. I can be completely transparent in front of them."

Justin’s life may look trouble free at first glance, but he’s been through some fiery trials. The reason he continues to move forward in his faith is because he’s depended on God’s Word in times of crisis and calm. Preparing during the off-season applies not only to his on-the-field performance, but also to his spiritual depth and stamina.

His parents divorced when he was 8 years old, and his older brother, Jason, died from a heroin overdose at a party in February of 1996. Jason was 26.

"No one is immune to the pain that sin causes in the world," says Justin. "The winds blow and things can get miserable but the bottom line is that I know my salvation and future is strong."

Rather than running from God, Justin has clung tightly to his faith in Christ—Whom he chose to follow as a sophomore at Manitou Springs (Colo.) High School. After graduating as class president, valedictorian and a consensus All-American in football, he obtained a public policy degree at Stanford University. While in college he also set a school record with 2,482 receiving yards in his career.

A fourth-round draft pick by Buffalo in 1995, Justin ranked fourth as a receiver for the Bills with 26 receptions for 300 yards. He was inactive for the first 11 games in ’96 with an injured left foot, then placed on the injured reserve list for the rest of the season.

After being released by the Bills on Aug. 24, 1997, he was picked up by Philadelphia on Sept. 23. He was released by the Eagles four days later, then re-signed on Sept. 30. Justin spent six games on the inactive list, and was waived on Nov. 4. San Francisco picked him up on Dec. 29, where he spent the entire post-season on the inactive list.

Now the No. 3 wide receiver for Denver, he’s seeing considerable playing time. He ranked second in receptions for the Broncos during the pre-season with 10 catches for 174 yards. His longest grab was a 48-yard touchdown against New Orleans.

Being on several teams has taught Justin a thing or two.

"I don’t always have to agree with my teammates on everything. Even as diverse as everyone is, through showing others respect, they show me respect. The last thing I need to do as a believer is to judge someone else. The job God has given me is to love people. His job is to save and correct them.

"My goal is to love others. That’s what Jesus did to me."

Reprinted by permission Victory Magazine.